Concord University will host the community premiere of “Three Rivers: The Bluestone, Gauley and New” Wednesday. The 90-minute documentary, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, will be shown in the main theater of the Fine Arts Center beginning at 5 p.m.
With nearly a hundred miles overseen by the National Park Service, sections of these three streams, flowing through southern West Virginia, constitute the largest federally protected system of rivers, east of the Mississippi.
“Three Rivers” examines the historical and ongoing relationship between man and nature in the region and serves as both a travelogue and an examination of efforts to improve the environment, while promoting economic growth through tourism.
Dr. Jonathan Berkey, chairperson of Concord’s Division of Social Sciences and associate professor of history, is among the experts interviewed for the documentary.
Berkey said he believes the future along the Gauley, Bluestone and New rivers depends on how the region’s people view and relate to their environment and the diverse flora and fauna residing here today.
“Our identity,” Berkey says, “is tied up in this landscape, in this environment and it’s up to us to try to preserve that, what is left, because it really does define who we are; it defines our history and if we’re careful and we do things right, it will define our future in a positive way, as well.”
Award-winning WVPBS documentarian Russ Barbour produced “Three Rivers.” Both Berkey and Barbour will be available after the viewing for audience questions.
Assisting WVPBS with the documentary are the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture. These organizations are charged with protecting portions of the New, Bluestone and Gauley and the lands through which they flow.
“Three Rivers” examines the events behind the establishment of both New River National Scenic River in North Carolina and New River Gorge National River in southern West Virginia, as well as Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area.
The production also looks at the geology and geography and what makes the New, Gauley and Bluestone unique when it comes to boating and enjoying life along these streams. The impact of industry along the waterways and efforts to improve the environment and quality of life there is also examined.
The community premiere of “Three Rivers” at Concord University is open to the public and there is no admission charge.
The documentary will premiere on WVPBS March 3 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.